The MLB Sour Rankings: Which team's World Series drought hurts the most?

Mike Oz
·10 min read

The Dodgers have finally won another World Series, which means that two of the last five World Series winners got to breathe a huge sigh of relief. The Dodgers didn’t carry as much baggage into their triumph as the Chicago Cubs did in 2016, but the result was the same. Big exhale.

The last five years have reset the list of MLB teams that most need to break a postseason drought. Who now carries all that pressure on their shoulders? Well, the Cleveland Indians have the longest World Series drought, but are they wearing it the hardest? Are their fans the most sour about it? Recency plays a part in this too — it’s not just about the length of the drought, but how much it hurts.

I set out to create the Sour Rankings — a flip on my Power Rankings — examining the fan bases that are most sour about not having won a World Series after 2020. Much like how Power Rankings aren’t just a list of standings, this isn’t just a list of playoff droughts.

It weighs a few things and aims to answer a few questions:

  • Who’s most disappointed coming out of 2020?

  • Whose perpetual disappointment is lingering the most?

  • If you’re not really that good, do you have a right to be sour?

  • What hurts more: Being close to a World Series and losing or never winning a World Series at all? (Spoiler, I think it’s the former.)

With that, here are the Sour Rankings entering the 2021 MLB season:

The Yankees haven't won a World Series since 2009. (Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
The Yankees haven't won a World Series since 2009. (Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

1. New York Yankees

Last World Series win: 2009

No one is going to say “Boo-hoo, poor Yankees” considering their 27 rings, but we have to admit that the Yankees have far different expectations than every other franchise. Going an entire decade without winning a World Series is like 50 years for other teams. Especially when you look at all the talent they’ve had, the money they’ve spent and the expectations they haven’t lived up to. When the Red Sox have won twice since the Yankees, the Giants have won three times, and the Cubs, Astros and Dodgers have each won, Yankees fans are plenty sour.

2. Cleveland Indians

Last World Series win: 1948

With the Cubs and Red Sox getting off the cursed list, the Indians now carry that monkey on their back. They were close in 2016, but what’s happened since has only made everything more frustrating. The Indians have seen an era with Francisco Lindor and consistently great pitching staffs come and now possibly go without a World Series win. The window in Cleveland is closing with Lindor approaching free agency and the front office already having traded away Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer and Mike Clevinger.

3. Texas Rangers

Last World Series win: Never

The Texas Rangers are one of six franchises that have never won a World Series and definitely have the right to be the sourest. It’s been 60 years and no big trophy. They won the AL pennant in 2010 and 2011, both times getting beaten by a hotter NL team. Both times, they figured they had a good chance. Now that they’re back rebuilding, the sour is just lingering.

4. Detroit Tigers

Last World Series win: 1984

The Tigers are in rebuilding mode now, sure, but it wasn’t too long ago that they had an astounding collection of talent and couldn’t get a World Series win out of it. Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, prime Miguel Cabrera — it was something. Something to be sour about all these years later.

5. Boston Red Sox

Last World Series win: 2018

Postseasons are often very good to Boston teams, so Red Sox fans don’t have a long World Series drought to be sour about. But they can definitely be sour about their team trading away Mookie Betts then watching him win a World Series in L.A.

6. Atlanta Braves

Last World Series win: 1995

The playoff woes of the Braves — and Atlanta teams in general — are well-documented. These Braves took the Dodgers to a Game 7. They’ve also had other recent disappointing playoff exits. The sour is strong in the ATL. And rightfully so.

7. New York Mets

Last World Series win: 1986

The Mets have a longer drought than the Dodgers had, but there are so many other problems with the Mets that being sour about not winning a World Series is just one part of the recipe. Folly follows the Mets, and maybe that’s changing with a new owner willing to spend money. But Mets fans will tell you not to count on anything.

8. Tampa Bay Rays

Last World Series win: Never

As the reigning World Series losers, the Rays have every right to be extra salty for the next calendar year. After that, they slide down with all the other young teams that haven’t won yet.

9. Chicago Cubs

Last World Series win: 2016

The Cubs shouldn’t have much to be sour about. They won a World Series, which was something a lot of fans had given up on. But that World Series came with dynasty expectations and well, all they’ve gotten since is early playoff exits.

10. Los Angeles Angels

Last World Series win: 2002

I honestly don’t know if Angels fans are all that sour. They’re a pretty quiet fan base as far as Livid Online Baseball People go. But they should be sour. Mike Trout! Prime Mike Trout! Maybe the best player ever when it’s all said and done and a grand total of three playoff games in that time (which were all losses, by the way). This is not a commentary on Trout. He’s done his part. The (once again in flux) Angels front office needs to construct a winner around him.

Mike Trout has only played three playoff games in his career. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Mike Trout has only played three playoff games in his career. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

11. Philadelphia Phillies

Last World Series win: 2008

The Phillies last won a title in 2008, which isn’t too long ago. But the frustration is growing. The rebuild came. The big stars arrived. The winning? Not so much. Has trust-the-process gone awry again in Philly? The sour is coming if hasn’t fully arrived yet.

12. Oakland A’s

Last World Series win: 1989

The A’s almost have as long a drought as the Dodgers had and plenty of postseason disappointments too. But being an A’s fan is understanding that the team only gets these opportunities when all the low-budget moves go their way simultaneously. Put another way, they’re in a perpetual state of sourness about the process by which their team is constructed, but they’ve also grown accustomed to it.

13. Seattle Mariners

Last World Series win: Never

The Mariners own the longest postseason drought in all of sports right now, so one thing at a time, guys. Just make the playoffs first.

14. Milwaukee Brewers

Last World Series win: Never

The Brewers haven’t even been to a World Series since 1982, so they’re just stuck in neutral it seems. Much like the Mariners, the idea of just getting to the World Series — let alone winning it — feels foreign.

15. San Diego Padres

Last World Series win: Never

The Padres haven’t won a World Series, sure, but the fan base got quite a high this year off their playoff run. And they now know even better days are ahead.

16. Cincinnati Reds

Last World Series win: 1990

It’s been a while for the Reds, but they’re coming off an exciting season that had to be encouraging. They’re not Padres or White Sox-like when it comes to “this looks like a future World Series winner” but there’s good reason for optimism. The Reds do carry some sourness from the Dusty Baker-era teams that were good and didn’t win. But it’s a new era for Reds baseball.

17. Minnesota Twins

Last World Series win: 1991

The famous Jack Morris game was the last time the Twins won a World Series. So that puts the whole thing in perspective. The Twins also seem to have a bright future, but carry some of these same October disappointments that plagued the Dodgers.

18. Toronto Blue Jays

Last World Series win: 1993

The Blue Jays haven’t won a World Series since Joe Carter’s joyous hop around the bases. Again, for perspective. Their surprise 2020 playoff appearance may be a preview of what’s to come.

19. Pittsburgh Pirates

Last World Series win: 1979

It’s been quite a while for the Pirates and it’s gonna be quite a while before they win again. Not much to be sour about these days. The numb of rebuilding has set in like anesthesia. When they let that 2013-2015 core go without a World Series win, the sour was much higher.

20. Baltimore Orioles

Last World Series win: 1983

Pretty much everything I said above about the Pirates, just four fewer years since their last World Series win.

21. Colorado Rockies

Last World Series win: Never

The Rockies made the World Series in 2007 and then got run over by the Red Sox. We also have to remember that they didn’t exist before 1993. So their pain is just middle of the pack for now.

22. Arizona Diamondbacks

Last World Series win: 2001

Contextually, it’s not that bad for the D-backs. They were the first of the late ’90s teams to win a title, which has made up for all the starts and stops that have followed. Now they’re a team that can’t figure out whether they’re rebuilding or going for it, and that could make a fan base more sour than the actual World Series itself.

23. Miami Marlins

Last World Series win: 2003

The Marlins, like the D-backs, are a younger franchise that has won the World Series. Two, in fact. So there’s not too much reason for them to be sour in the grand scheme of baseball pain.

Things are looking up for Luis Robert and the White Sox. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
Things are looking up for Luis Robert and the White Sox. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

24. Chicago White Sox

Last World Series win: 2005

The South Side has every right to be sour about the Sox’s new managerial choice, but as World Series go, they can’t complain too much. It wasn’t *that* long ago that they won. Their rebuild is looking good and their window is wide open.

25. Kansas City Royals

Last World Series win: 2015

In retrospect, knowing what we know about small-market baseball, it seems incredible that the Royals won in 2015. May not happen again for a while, but it’s still new enough that KC fans can enjoy it.

26. St. Louis Cardinals

Last World Series win: 2011

The Cardinals are a team that just seems to wander into World Series wins. They’ve won twice in the past 15 years and 11 overall. They have nothing to complain about.

27. San Francisco Giants

Last World Series win: 2014

The only thing the Giants have to be sour about is that the Dodgers finally won a title, otherwise Giants fans can bask in their three titles in the last 10 years.

28. Washington Nationals

Last World Series win: 2019

The Washington Nationals should just act like 2020 never happened. Claim a mulligan! Say they overslept! Something! Just keep riding that wave of happiness from their 2019 title.

29. Houston Astros

Last World Series win: 2017

While Astros fans are most definitely sour, it’s not because they haven’t won a World Series. It’s because they’re baseball’s most vilified fan base (and team). The fact that they still get to fly a World Series flag after their cheating scandal surfaced should be enough for them to quietly sit at the bottom of this list.

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